A monument for “The Campaign Against Terror”?

Veterans Memorial, Queens ParkThere was a lot of press on memorials and remembrance over this November 11 weekend — among it a mini-tour of unusual war memorials I wrote for Saturday’s Globe Toronto section.

One thing I discovered doing research for the story didn’t fit in with the theme of that piece but still seemed like it would be of interest to others: namely, that Queen’s Park’s newest monument, the 2006-installed Veterans’ Memorial, lists among its honorees those killed in “The Campaign Against Terror.”

Though I have respect for all those Canadians that gave their lives in the name of someone else’s getting better, this wording struck me as peculiar. I didn’t know that the “Campaign Against Terror” was considered such an official military operation by the Ontario Government, worthy of listing along with historically recognized conflicts like World War I and II.

Expansion of the idea of sacrifice and conflict is actually one of the worthy goals of this monument. For example, it attempts to atone for past memorial errors that excluded Aboriginal and women soldiers and civilians from recognition by mentioning them specifically. It lists losses from both “Wars” and “Peace Missions” as being worthy of honouring. It also recognizes veterans of the Korean War, who do not have a Toronto memorial to call their own.

So essentially, with its photographic-seeming facade offering a pastiche of images from different wars, peace missions and eras, this monument’s designed as a kind of catchall for military losses past (from the Fenian Raids onward) and future (there’s plenty of space left for engraving under both the “Wars and Alliances” and “Major Peace Missions” lists).

But I think engraving “The Campaign Against Terror” as an official Canadian “war” worth honouring is a bit too far of an expansion for me. (FYI the Iraqi war and the Afghanistan conflict are already listed separately.) It’s a perfect example of how public monuments define what is honourable historically, as well as how that official story might conflict with the views of citizens.

What do you think? Do you condone a Toronto memorial honouring “The Campaign Against Terror”?

Photo of the Veterans Memorial from Canadian Army.

16 comments

  1. Yes, we need to recall that we once sent our sons and daughters off to kill or be killed in a conflict called “The War on Terror”. As it is seen as a separate conflict from the others but still cost lives that will need remembering, they need their own space on the monument.

    I myself would like to see a monument to the War on Terror erected somewhere, some day… It would be in the form of the word FEAR in 20-foot-tall letters an it would be fashioned from recycled oil drums.

  2. Campaign against terror? How many CSIS and RCMP were beaten to a pulp when Maher Arrar was packed off to Syria?
    As far as I can determine the only casualties of the “Campaign against Terror” are the victims whose rights were suspended. How many of these are we to see? All because our institutions were complicit with those feeding the paranoia machine, agreeing to deny process?

  3. Hmm. I agree, Leah. Disturbing. A while back I heard someone from the police service in Quebec introduce themselves as as a veteran of the G8 protests in Quebec City … go figure.

  4. The War against an Adjective????

    It is shameful that we have adopted this horrible American Propaganda qand stuck it on
    what I thought was a rather elegant monument.

    Remember when our troops were in Afganistan on a “Peace Keeping Mission” or a “Nation Building Mission”?
    When did this become a War?

    We should all do our best to refrain using this deliberately vague and misleading propoganda like the “War on Terror”
    or “Support or Troops” as all it does is discourage meaniful debate about the validity of these occupations and
    ongoing conflicts.

    With all of the evidence we have now about the deliberate lies and manipulations that got the U.S. and the U.K. into the War in Iraq I would
    think that Canada would be at least a bit more critical of the terminology and associations we make with our involvement
    in Afghanistan.

    If we were to be truly honest we would have bumper stickers that said “I support low Oil Prices” or
    “I support the Pipeline in Afghanistan”.

    To still pretend that we are combating “Global Terrorism” is both naà¯ve and disheartening.

  5. “(FYI the Iraqi war and the Afghanistan conflict are already listed separately.)”

    Given that the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts are listed seperately, what is the “Campign Against Terror” about? Who are the soldiers that died in this “Campaign” and where did they die?

  6. I think historians do a much better job of naming wars than politicians. To me, a name like the “Great War” sounds naive; “World War One” is much better. “Campaign Against Terror” sounds like politicized spin, and something simpler — “War in Afghanistan”, since presumably that’s the location of Canadian casualties — would have been better.

    It’s too bad the monument uses a cringe-worthy name, since it detracts from the main message. These were Canadian soldiers fighting in action authorized by our elected government. They didn’t choose their orders. They deserve to be listed on a memorial with a maximum of respect and a minimum of political fuss.

  7. I noticed that mounument previously and was also seriously put out that the “campaign against terror” was listed, since both Iraq war 1 and Afghanistan are already listed on the monument. It seems both ahistorical and revisionist to have such a slogan on what would hopefully be a meaningful monument to war dead. The monument in general also fails as a fitting memorial. The photo images on the stone of the monument already look very “computery” which is not a timeless feel that a war monument will have. Twenty years from now it will look even worse. It’s also a small and junky site to stumble over- there was litter across the top the day I was there. It’s rather embarrassing for a public monument of any sort.

  8. Ugh, the war on terror is a global disinformation campaign to keep the people of the world in constant fear of a nonexistent enemy.

    Why won’t people wake up and challenge the forces that keep us in this state?

  9. I’m not sure if “The Campaign Against Terror” title was named during the McGinty government or before, but Dalton’s presided over some cringe worthy names like Highway of Heroes and Family Day — names that diminish both soldiers and families. Keep them away from words.

  10. “War on Terror” is no the big catch phrase used to fool people and take away their rights. Its the new “communist”.

    No better example is the recent attempt by the Mayo Clinic to stop the CPR from increasing the amount of coal shipments on a rail liner near the hospital. The reason ? TERRORISTS might attack it! I am not kidding look it up. Yes folks the rail spur next to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minn. is a potential target. Is nowhere safe ? (Of course not you fools.)

    And dont get me started on the word “heros”.

  11. Firstly, Alex, ‘terror’ is a noun, not an adjective. (Jon Stewart has a funny bit about how it’s not even a proper noun, and that surely our next target will be ‘ennui’).

    Secondly, whatever you choose to call it, there are conflicts in the world right now, Canadian soldiers have died in them, many of them Ontarians, and they deserve to be honoured by their government. That doesn’t change because the people they fought are a much murkier enemy than the Nazis. To say that the Ontario government doesn’t have a role in remembering the fallen just because…well, I don’t even really understand why they wouldn’t…is nonsensical.

  12. Maybe “The Millennial Middle East Occupation” would be a more suitable title for the present conflicts

  13. I am very much in support of this, but don’t judge me as a supporter of warmongers just yet. There are global networks such as al Qaeda that support civilian killing and are willing to use such tactics to coerce governments. 9/11 is the poignant example. I think that civilian targets are never allowable and those who fight against groups that are willing to kill civilians deserve our recognition. The enemy is not a traditional nation like in any other war. Nation versus nation conflicts will be rare in the future due to an increasingly interconnected and globalized world. It is in keeping with international agreements that intervention is justified against terrorism and a responsibility. That’s central to the UN.

  14. My views of these conflicts aside, I object to the use of language in this way. It truly dumbs down the discourse when an ambiguous propaganda phrase like “campaign against terror” is described on a memorial like this. It is a short phrase that packs in a huge amount of assumptions that we ought to be questioning, not accepting blindly.

    Same with Highway of Heroes and Family Day. It’s propaganda and it has no place in a democratic society. What’s wrong with “Veterans’ Memorial Highway” and “February Civic Holiday”? (not that I think naming a highway where people are killed and maimed on a regular basis is a suitable memorial to veterans, but that’s another story.)

  15. I agree. I’d like to know what campaign they’re referring to, considering Afghanistan is already listed.

    If it doesn’t actually refer to anything, then it’s just pointless, jingoistic nonsense.

  16. I’m surprised they didn’t call it the Total War Against Terrorism since it’s screwed a lot of people out of their rights…

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